Junior

Embrace your time as Junior IT

All IT workers have to start somewhere. Usually, it’s the bottom- as a Junior something. And I’ll be honest- the bottom isn’t all that fun.

When you’re the new IT guy or gal (aka Junior), you usually get tasked with -let’s face it- crappy jobs.

Pulling cable. Removing cable. The dreaded PHYSICAL INVENTORY.

BUT being Junior has distinct advantages that you will miss if you try to “grow up” too quickly.

You can get paid to learn

When you’re new in IT, everyone knows it. You’re know so little that you actually turn green. This fact – you know, the part about you not knowing a firewall rule from a hole in the ground – is no mystery to your new employer.

And guess what? They hired you anyway. You still get paid! Ha! Joke’s on them!

But all joking aside, the company/boss/whatever knows that they will have to train in all things IT. Paying inexperienced IT people in the hopes that they will one day figure out how to use all of the monitors in a Remote Desktop session (it’s mstsc /span, by the way) and tell all the old timers and make that problem go away forever- is a business expense.

The idea that they can train juniors their way, however, is also very attractive. Feel good about getting paid to learn.

junior

It can still be someone else’s fault

When you work on complex systems under more senior techs, they ultimately take responsibility for your work early on. It’s like an extra layer of protection over you. You also get to see a lot of bad habits- habits you will hopefully avoid.

You can also learn really good habits- and have them reinforced- from the senior techs. Some of these good habits include

  • Creating clear and useful documentation
  • Writing good, concise ticket notes
  • Dealing with tough end-users
  • Principles of troubleshooting
  • Handling IT crises
  • Communicating with senior executives

 

If you screw up under their watchful eye, the senior folks will help you 1) fix it and 2) prevent it from happening next time. I find it beautiful to watch Systems Engineers that know their stuff fixing things. Just be glad it’s not you… yet.

It keeps you humble

No one likes a know-nothing IT know-it-all.

This is really easy for Junior folks to fall into once you get a little experience under your belt. I’ve been guilty of this one many times, and I think we all know one or two times another person has gotten this way.

Personally, I struggle with this sometimes. I know a few things, but there are people my age that have been in IT now for over 16 years (since high school) that are so far ahead of me. It makes me feel inadequate, like I’m late to the party, or that the IT ship has sailed. I’m sure others feel this way, too.

The result is posturing. Or spouting pseudo-IT rubbish. Neither of which endear your peers and seniors to you. They are smarter than that, and they will let you hang yourself with your words.

To combat this in my own life, I have a simple little reminder for me every day. It comes up whenever I open PowerShell on my laptop:

Junior

There is such power in admitting that you don’t know something. It’s actually liberating. You don’t have to pretend or act like you have all the answers.

Being an IT Junior is temporary, and it’s not all that bad. If you take your time, learn the job, and take your lumps, you can get paid to learn, let Senior techs take the heat, and stay humble- all of which will make your path to IT career success that much smoother.

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4 Comments

  • Mark Adams Reply

    Another great article and I know these feelings all too well. Still in the Junior world and probably will be for a few more years. Thanks Dave!

    • wowitsdave
      wowitsdave Reply

      Thanks, Mark. Before you know it you will be discussing some advanced topic, then having to do a double take (like I did today when talking about storage with a vendor) and ask yourself, “Was that me?” 🙂

  • Josh Reply

    Out of curiosity, why, then, do so many “junior” positions I see require 6-10 years of experience? That makes no sense to me.

    • wowitsdave
      wowitsdave Reply

      I hear you, Josh- and that’s a tough one. I think that can be attributed mostly to HR people not really knowing about IT and how it works.

      The best thing I can recommend is to seek out companies that you want yk work for and make a case why they want you and how you can contribute. Then you don’t have to rely on silly job ads 🙂

      Are you in IT already or just getting started?

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